Friday, April 22, 2011

The TRUE GOSPEL (Accept No Imitations!)

Since I have already dealt with a biblical examination and explanation of the Gospel on The TRUTH Under FIRE:

The Simple and Serious Gospel of Salvation, part 1, and re-posted this series of articles on this vital subject here on FROM the MIND of FIRE, one might rightly ask the question - Why another article?

Its rather simple really; the previous treatment was a series, and it was rather comprehensive; it delved somewhat deeply into the various aspects of the Gospel and Salvation.

This is an abbreviated, 'user friendly' but faithful expression of the Gospel, and I hope to be succinct and sharp in this presentation.
In this day and age, we see many different Gospels - the Social Gospel, the Green Gospel, the Prosperity Gospel, the Kingdom Now Gospel - and so many others!

The same goes for different Christs - the New Age Christ, the Hindu Christ, the Islamic version of Christ, and many Christ impersonators and charlatans across our contemporary landscape.

The Bible warns us about these imitation Gospels in GAL 1:6-9; it warns us as well against Jesus imposters, also in 2 COR 11:4:

For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him

These other Gospels can be quite complicated with lots of rules, regulations, rites and reason, appealing to the intellect and the flesh, but all of these detract from the simplicity that is in Christ: such simplicity that even a small child can understand and accept the Gospel of Salvation (my grand niece received salvation in Jesus Christ at just 3 years of age! Her hearts desire has been and remains to be a missionary):

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ

So what is the Gospel all about? Of course most of us realize that 'Gospel' means "good news" and it most certainly is! The best news one could possibly imagine, but not! I recall in sharing the Gospel last week end among some of our city's homeless, one man ("Eli") grew hot and irate when we tried to bring the Gospel to him when all he wanted was a dollar - he would prefer a dollar to eternal life!

Remember these 'R's: Realize, Repent, Receive, Regenerate, and Righteous:

First, REALIZE: We must first of all realize Who God is, and who we are - God is the Almighty Creator Who has every right to do with His creation what He wants, including you and I.

ISAIAH 45:18 
For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.

God is also purely holy and cannot as the KING of all creation, and the Judge of all living, tolerate sin. For simplicity's sake, let's just say that sin is disobedience to God's perfect, holy will.

Adam and Eve had only one command from God - don't eat the forbidden fruit, because the day that you do, you will surely die!

Simple, right? But what did they do? They disobeyed God and sinned.

When this happened, our First Parents received a sinful nature that was passed on to their children (Abel, Cain, Seth, etc.) and they likewise passed that same sinful nature onto their children, and so on, until today, we have several billion sinners on this planet.

Any who would doubt their own sinfulness and say, "Oh, I'm not that bad; I haven't murdered any body!" has to ask themselves, "Have I ever hated any one in my life?" According to Jesus Christ, if you ever hated (KJV "angry") anyone, you committed murder in your heart (MATT 5:21-22)!

Have you ever committed adultery? That's disobedience to the will of God who desires that we all have a monogamous relationship with a singular spouse; but even if you haven't actually committed the act, Jesus said if you look on (someone) with lust, you already committed adultery in your heart (MATT 5:27-28)!

A careful examination of the Ten Commandments (EXODUS 20) all on their own (there are many more commandments besides just these!) will prove that we all have sinned against God, without exception! See ROMANS 3:23.

We must REALIZE that God is Holy and that He has no choice but to judge and condemn us to an eternity of hell for our willful rebellion and sin against our Holy and Almighty King - Sin is spiritual treason against the LORD God!

We must also REALIZE that without God, we have no hope of eternal life, as He is the ONLY source of this life! Sin separates souls from the Living God!

Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die
. (see also vs. 20)

But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that he will not hear

Once the Law of God convicts our hearts of sin (GAL 3:22-24; ROM 7:14), we then must understand that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 PET 3:9).

Once we REALIZE Who God is, and who we are, and what we have done against the Holy God of Creation, we must then REPENT.

What does it mean to "repent"? It means a change of mind or heart or purpose,to reconsider morally; it involves three basic steps:

1) Receiving new knowledge, that is the Holy Law and then, afterwards the Gospel message itself.

2) Regret for previous course, and displeasure with one self, that is the conviction of sin.

3) A change involving action - believing the Gospel and committing oneself and life to the LORD for salvation.

With so many Gospels today, and Gospel messages in our churches, the often overlooked or ignored aspect which is an essential part of the Gospel is repentance.

If we don't acknowledge that our sin is something that would worthily send us to hell for having offended the holy God, and that this is something we must turn away from so that we may have a right attitude in approaching God meekly and in the spirit of remorse and broken-heartedness, we are left with a Gospel where God 'forgives anyway' and sin becomes less dangerous and not something to be avoided as it should be!

The words "repent" and "repentance" occurs sixty nine times in the Bible; the prophets of old preached repentance, John the Baptist preached repentance, our LORD Jesus preached it as well as the apostles, but today's pulpits aren't approaching this needful truth for fear of offending people!
Let's not worry about offending God with our sin, we're too busy worrying about offending our congregations! Is it any wonder why our fellowships are filled with false converts and 'half-way Christians'?

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent

Once we REALIZE our situation, and REPENT we must then RECEIVE the Gospel of our Salvation which God has accomplished for us through the Person of Jesus Christ!

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

The Old Testament is very eloquent and precise in the explanation of the Gospel; two primary sources are PSALM 22 and ISAIAH 53. Both explain different aspects of the Gospel message at the heart of the work of salvation: the cross!

PSALM 22 portrays in vivid detail the events during the crucifixion of Christ with such clarity, the obvious reference to the LORD Jesus cannot be denied except by the most spiritually blind of this world (2 COR 4:4).

ISAIAH 53 gets into the spiritual aspects of the cross and the Lamb of God, slain for our iniquities!

ISAIAH 53:5-6
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

And also:

ISAIAH 53:10
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand

Understanding that God's wrath was taken out on His own Son, who paid the penalty for our sins (remember, the soul that sins, it shall surely die - and Christ Jesus is our sin bearer; therefore He became sin for us, He Who knew no sin, and died in our place!) and yet He also rose from the dead!

We will be celebrating the Resurrection of our LORD in just a couple days from now (commonly called Easter, a pagan holiday, but that's another story!) and we have every cause to celebrate! It's because He rose from the dead that He proved He conquered over sin and death, and is now able to bring eternal life to all who will RECEIVE His salvation!

Once you understand that JESUS CHRIST died for your sins, and is able to free you from the penalty of sin, and judgment by the Holy Hand of God; once you turn from your sinful life and surrender your heart to the LORD God as His own, bought by the blood of Jesus, and receive Him (JOHN 1:12), He grants to you the GIFT (read that, "free" as all gifts are free to those who receive them!) of Eternal Life, the Holy Spirit then enters your heart, which has been cleansed of all sin and made a proper place for the Spirit of God; you then become a child of God!

This is what it means to be REGENERATE!

TITUS 3:3-7
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, [and] hating one another.

But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

ROMANS 6:23 
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Your life is no longer your own if you belong to Christ Jesus; you are now the temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells in you, who has brought you back to spiritual life!

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

ACTS 20:28
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood
. (Incidentally, this is an awesome proof text verse to show that Jesus is God, for it states that GOD purchased with HIS OWN blood!)

And finally as a result of REALIZING, REPENTING, RECEIVING and REGENERATING, there is then RIGHTEOUSNESS, that is RIGHT LIVING, approved by God and in a RIGHT relationship with Him as we yield ourselves over to His Spirit and the power of the Cross - to allow ourselves to die to our sinful nature, daily, and thereby 'making room' for the Spirit of God to empower us to live holy, RIGHTEOUS lives, to the Glory of God!

Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God

And why would God go through all this bother for the sake of sinners like us, and not simply destroy this rebel planet and start over?

JOHN 3:16-17
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Also -

That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus

May the LORD bless any who read this, that don't as yet KNOW the LORD Jesus as THE LORD and SAVIOR of all those that call upon the Most Holy Name of JESUS CHRIST!


For more details about this, see the TTUF article, REPENTANCE: What Is It And Is It Necessary?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi brother, this article articulates very clearly the gospel-concisely and pointedly.

Thanks for sharing. I especially like the reference to God in Acts 20. I don't think I ever made that connection. Very cool.

Tim Hinze